My great uncle was a missions pioneer. In his role as missions director at a large Christian university he began taking groups to Mexico on missions trips long before it was popular to do so. My dad was a teenager on one of those early trips with his uncle – an experience that forever defined the course of his life.
A week after he married my mom, he even took her along on one of those trips … on an unairconditioned school bus all the way from West Virginia to Mexico. And for the next couple weeks he stayed with the guys and she stayed with the girls. I’m not sure how their marriage survived.
My dad then followed in his uncle’s footsteps taking over that same missions director position and continuing to lead university students on missions trips all over the world. This was the life that I was born into. You could say that missions is in my blood … or so I thought.
Born in 1761, William Carey is known as the “father of modern missions”. His work inspired the missionary greats like Adonairum Judson, Hudson Taylor and David Livingstone.
But what I find interesting about Carey was his frustration with the church and what he perceived as their lack of missions interest. He argued that “Jesus’ Great Commission applied to all Christians of all times”, and he called out fellow believers of his day for ignoring this truth.
Looking back at Carey’s life and words make me question my own views on missions. Is missions really in my blood? Or have I simply made my vocation choice an excuse? And as a church, have we really come so far?
You see, I believe that we have all been taught from an early age what missions is supposed to be about. If you are like me then you grew up with the images of our own missionary greats lining our church halls – people who made great sacrifices to go to the ends of the earth.
Some of the best people I know are full-time missionaries on foreign soil and deserve to be honored and celebrated. But somehow in the process we have made it a choice to be a “missionary” instead of a commission applied to all Christians at all times.
We have made it a choice “to go” instead of a mandate to live “on mission” everyday.
To really simplify it, perhaps we are all called to be “missionaries” – we simply have a choice of where we live.
You see, the lines of missions are now blurred more than ever. It must be so much more than a choice to go on a trip once a year or a committee to serve on, or an annual conference to attend.
This is the Christian life that we have all been called to.